Smitten Kitchen Lemon Squares

lemon squares 003-003

I have a big, and slightly scattered family (in French we say une famille recomposée, a ‘recomposed’ family), which results in a lot of separate, but equally food-centric, Christmas celebrations. Last night was Christmas number three, with the Belgian family. In Denmark we celebrate on the 24th, with pork and duck (in my family at least), gravy, caramelised potatoes and pickled red cabbage, finishing off the meal with ris à l’amande for dessert, a rich rice pudding with cream and almonds, and served with warm cherry sauce, not at all what you need after a heavy meal, but awesome none the less. We put one or two whole almonds in the pudding, and those who find them have to keep mum whilst everyone else keeps eating and hoping to get the almond. And then the winners get a present, usually something edible 🙂 nothing says Christmas like a little friendly competition 😉

Once Christmas dinner has been consumed, we dance around the tree and sing Christmas songs and carols (and by dance, I mean hold hands in a circle around the tree whilst sort of walking at a brisk pace). It sounds insane, but it’s a great way to digest all the Christmas food and wake up a bit before giving presents! I once had two American friends join me and my family for Christmas, and whilst it’s always slightly embarrassing to introduce non-Danes to some of our traditions, particularly the dancing one, they seemed to enjoy it 😉 as do my brothers’ significant others, none of whom are Danish. Anyways, my point… Christmas number three. On Christmas day we have a big Christmas lunch, just to firmly cement the indigestion and food hangover from the previous night, and by the 26th, I’m a little ‘Christmas food’ed out’. So for the 26th, I decided to make a lemon dessert, something not at all Christmassy, and hopefully a little lighter.

I was given Deb Perelman’s the smitten kitchen cookbook for Christmas (I’ve been wanting to get it since last Christmas!), and in it there is a super quick and easy recipe for these whole lemon bars, no muss, no fuss, heavy on the lemon. I love anything lemony, although I’d never tried lemon bars before. And these are really lovely, the crust sort of caramelises a little bit, and although they didn’t win me over with the very first bite, I kept going back for another taste, and then another, and quickly realised, these are kinda great! And quick, and simple to make, and.. what’s not to love. Everyone at Christmas number three loved them too, so this recipe’s a keeper.

I was lazy and didn’t want to clean my blender twice, so I made the crust by melting the butter and mixing it into the flour and sugar with a fork, before pressing into the tin. This made the crust very ‘shortbready’, a positive in my book. I’ve included Deb’s instructions below as well, in case you’re feeling less lazy! I really like the slightly chewy, caramelly shortbread layer though, and it was super easy to cut too. Anyways, enough rambling:

For the crust, you will need:

  • 125 g (1 cup) flour
  • 65 g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 115 g (8 tbsp / 1 stick) butter, melted

For the lemon filling:

  • 1 medium lemon (mine was about 120 g)
  • 265 g (1 1/3 cups) sugar
  • 115 g (8 tbsp / 1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp (15 g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Line a 20 cm / 8 inch square baking tin with baking parchment.

Mix the flour, sugar and salt, add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the butter has been absorbed into the flour (Deb doesn’t melt the butter, but whizzes everything together in the food processor, before pressing into the baking tin).

Mere jul 2014 052Mere jul 2014 042Mere jul 2014 053

Press into an even layer in your baking dish. If the dough is too warm and buttery, place  in the fridge for about ten minutes before continuing to press into your tin. Prick little holes in the dough with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up, then bake for about 15-20 minutes until nice and golden (mine was done after 15).

Mere jul 2014 055Mere jul 2014 072Mere jul 2014 078

Whilst the crust is baking, make the filling. Cut your lemon in half; if the pith (the white bit between the peel and the flesh) is thicker than 1/2 cm/1/4 inch, to avoid the lemon squares tasting too bitter, cut the peel off of half of the lemon, cutting the flesh into smaller pieces after removing the pith; slice the other half lemon (including pith), and add this and the pith-less lemon chunks, peel and flesh, to the blender. If, like on my lemon, the pith is less than 1/2 cm, just slice the lemon in thin slices and add to the blender (remember to remove any seeds).

Mere jul 2014 057Mere jul 2014 063Mere jul 2014 067

Add the sugar to the lemon slices, and whiz until you have a smooth purée. Add the butter chunks, and whiz again until you have an even mixture. Finally, add your eggs, salt and cornstarch, and whiz in little bursts until everything is blended together.

Mere jul 2014 074Mere jul 2014 077

Pour over the crust, and bake for 35-40 minutes (mine was done after 35), until the lemon filling is turning golden, and only wobbles slightly when you gently shake the pan.

Mere jul 2014 082Mere jul 2014 084

Let cool for a bit (5-10 minutes), then put in the fridge and allow to cool completely. When the pan and its contents have cooled, lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into little or medium-sized squares (I cut mine into 30 little two-bite squares).

lemon squares 004-002lemon squares 012-006

I prefer to eat these completely cold from the fridge, with a generous layer of icing sugar!

Keep for a few days in the fridge, covered. 🙂

Advertisements

Pebernødder – Danish Christmas Cookies

Pebernødder og brunkager 039

Adapted from: Byens bedste kager, by Rikke Gryberg

These crunchy, crispy, spiced little cookies are a Danish Christmas institution. Pebernødder means ‘pepper nuts’ – the little cookies are more or less the size of a nut, and while these do contain a bit of pepper, to ‘pepper’ actually means to season, or spice. These ones are spiced with nutmeg, ginger, pepper, cloves and cardamom, and have a nice zing to them, that comes out as you’re chewing.

I always make them around Christmas, although this is the first time I tried this particular recipe; at first I wasn’t sure about the ginger and thought about perhaps reducing the quantity next time, but I tested them out on my Danish colleagues by bringing a selection of Christmas baking to work with me, and they seemed to favour them in particular! So I may stick with the ginger after all 🙂 if you’re not a huge fan of ginger, you can reduce the amount slightly, and also perhaps the pepper a little bit. I also added cloves and nutmeg, as I cannot imagine a pebernød without cloves, as well as a tsp of salt.

These are easy to make, fun to eat, and also great to give away as an edible gift when going to a Christmas party, as as they keep really well, and this recipe makes for a lot of pebernødder!

You will need:

  • 250 g (1 1/10 cup) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 250 g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) whole cream
  • 500 (4 cups) flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar and whole cream.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 005Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 007

Sift together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder and baking soda, and incorporate into the wet ingredients, first with a spoon, then pressing it together with your hands.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 009Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 017Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 019

Roll the dough into long strips, about 1 cm (1/3 inch) thick (no need to flour the counter top/cutting board, the dough doesn’t stick and is very easy to work with). Let cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then cut each strip into little pieces, about 1 cm (1/3 inch) wide (you can place several strips next to each other and cut them simultaneously, to save time). Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered in baking parchment.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 021Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 026Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 046

Bake for 7-8 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C/ 400°F, until the cookies are nice and golden. Leave for about 30 seconds on the baking sheet, then pour into a bowl or dish to cool (they cool very quickly). Repeat with the rest of the dough strips (or keep them in the fridge until you want to bake them – the dough will keep for about a week or so, covered in tin foil or plastic film).

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 050-001Pebernødder og brunkager 063-002

Keep in a cookie tin/airtight container (if using a plastic container, be sure to line it with baking parchment to keep the cookies nice and crisp) for about 1 month.

Yield: about 380 pebernødder

 

Brunkager – Danish Christmas Cookies

Pebernødder og brunkager 047-002

Adapted from: Byens bedste kager, by Rikke Gryberg

Part four of the Christmas cookie extravaganza!

These are sliiiightly finicky cakes to make – but only in that the dough is very sticky and sort of melts between your fingers as you handle it, so it’s important to keep it in the fridge at all times, when not slicing the logs into think discs of dough, right before baking. But the result is a super crispy, aromatic cookie that just melts in your mouth.

I decided to make these because they’re my mum’s favourite, and I’m glad I did, they are super yummy! Even though the original recipe calls for dark syrup, I only had light (golden) syrup, and they still turned out perfect, just slightly lighter than the traditional ‘brunkage’ (brun means brown, as in ‘brown cookie’ 🙂 ). Lots of recipes use golden syrup though, and in any case, a good amount of brown sugar ensures a nice caramel hue and flavour!

Anywho, these are well worth trying out, the dough is very easy to assemble, it’s only the rolling into logs/slicing stage that is a little time consuming, as the dough will literally start to melt between your fingers if you aren’t quick! But who cares if some of your cookies turn out a little lopsided 🙂
A cookie’s a cookie by any shape.

So, you will need:

  • 500 g (2 1/5 cups) soft butter
  • 250 g (about 2/3 cups) golden or dark syrup
  • 250 g (1 1/4 cups) dark brown sugar
  • 625 g (5 cups) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp water
  • zest of 1/2 (untreated) lemon
  • 100 g (1 1/3 cups) blanched and sliced almonds

In a large bowl, mix the soft butter, syrup, sugar and the tsp of water. Add the lemon zest.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 027Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 030

Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices, and add the almonds.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 037Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 042-002Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 044

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been absorbed. The dough will be super sticky; stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once your dough has been chilled, flour a work top/cutting board, flour your hands and scoop out about 1/4 of the dough, pressing it into a dough ball. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the ball, and roll into a log. Place on a cutting board, and repeat with the remaining dough. Put back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 054Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 056-001Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 057-001

Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F. Take one of your dough logs out of the fridge, and, using a very sharp knife, swiftly slice into thin slices, as thin as you can get them, and place on a cookie sheet covered in baking parchment. Put the unused dough back in the fridge before the rest of the log melts completely! 🙂

Bake for about 8 minutes until golden, but keep an eye on them! Because they’re so thin, they will burn and turn too dark very, very quickly (if you’re using dark syrup keep an even closer eye, as it’ll be trickier to see if the cookies are getting too dark).

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 060-001Pebernødder og brunkager 051

Pull the baking parchment with the cookies still on it onto a cooling rack. Wait until the cookies are completely cool before peeling them off the baking parchment and transferring to a cookie tin.

Yield: a lot! I still have a couple of logs in the fridge, I would guestimate 140-160 cookies.

P.s.: The little dark spots you can see in the baked cookies in between slivers of almond, are the ground cloves! I couldn’t get any that were ready-ground, so I ground them up myself, resulting in the cloves being less finely ground. I really like the effect, and also very much the aroma they give, not too strong at all, but very, very aromatic!

 

 

Caramelised Onion Quiche

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 181-001

OK, so I do occasionally make things other than Christmas cookies, and last night I made this caramelised onion quiche.

I loooooove pastry. To me, there is almost nothing better than flakey, home-made-with-butter, pastry. Especially when paired with caramelised onions. I mean… (deeply satisfied butter-pastry-and-caramelised-onion sigh). I always decide to make this sort of last minute, when I get a big enough craving for it, and it usually results in a sort of late dinner, depending on what time I make it home from work. But it’s always worth the wait (I’m exaggerating here, it really doesn’t take that long to make, but I am very much a fan of the ‘ready in 30-minutes’ dinner during the week, and that, this is not. But oh, the onions. And the flakey pastry.

My recipe is a mix of this one, and another one for Quiche Lorraine from one of my mum’s old Danish cook books that she inherited from her mum (I very much doubt it’s still in print, it’s this awesome compilation of baking recipes from the 1960’s, small but very comprehensive, with drawn illustrations of cakes and such). If you’d rather, you can always buy ready-made pastry instead of making it yourself, but do try to get one made with butter, and not the kind with vegetable fats/margarine – if nothing else then for the flavour.

But the onions take about an hour to caramelise, so if you’re feeling industrious, why not make your own pastry in the meantime! And this one is super quick and easy to make 🙂 What discourages me from making quiche more often is the rolling out the dough part – I just can’t always be bothered to roll out dough, somehow that just seems unbelievably exhausting to me sometimes. But for a while now I’ve been pressing the dough into the pie dish instead of rolling it out, and while it probably takes the same amount of time, I feel like it’s just a whole lot easier, no flouring the counter top, no faffing about with the rolling pin. Win-win.

This is not a quick dinner, but doesn’t take hours and hours to prepare either (about 1 1/2-2 hours total, including baking) and it’s easy, cheap, and very filling and delicious!

CARAMELISED ONION QUICHE
Adapted from Simply Recipes (and my mum’s old cookbook)

For the caramelised onions, you’ll need:

  • about 6 medium-sized onions (+/- 650 g / 1.4 lbs), red or white
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Begin by slicing your onions. Make a shallow cut at the root end, just to remove the root bit but so that the onion still stays intact, then make a slightly less shallow cut at the other end of your onion, and remove the papery bit.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 108Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 109Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 122 Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 132-001

Place your onion root-end up on your cutting board. Cut it in half, then cut each half into about six-eight thinner slices, so that each slice stays (more or less!) intact/attached at the root end. Do this with all your onions.

Heat up the oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, and add your onions and a good sprinkle of sea salt. Cook the onions on medium to high heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, to give the onions a nice colour, then turn down the heat and leave them to simmer for about 30 more minutes, stirring now and then. You don’t want the onions to burn, but if they get a little charred here and there that’s perfect!

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 135(onions caramelising and steaming up the camera)

When the onions are nice and soft, and quite brown, add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a final 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring a good few times to prevent burning. Take the onions off the heat.

Whilst the onions are cooking away, make the pastry:

For the pastry, you’ll need:

  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3-4 tbsp cold water

Rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs; add the salt, giving it a mix with your fingers. Then add the egg yolks and 3 tbsp of water. Mix with a fork to distribute the egg yolks and water throughout the mixture, then gently press the dough together with your hands (if the dough is too dry to stick together, add a tiny bit more cold water, 1/2-1 tbsp).

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 072Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 076Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 080Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 082

Press into a round disc, place the disc in your pie dish (no need to grease the pie dish). Using he ball of your hand, press the dough into your pie dish, pressing from the centre outwards to the edge of the dish, and turning the dish clockwise to repeat and cover the whole pie dish.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 088-001  Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 089  Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 090  Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 091-001

Use your finger to press the dough up the sides of the pie dish, until you have a bit of overhang. Cut most of the overhang off but leave a little bit, about 5 mm, and use any extra dough to fill any gaps or thin patches.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 093-001Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 095Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 099-001

Leave to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes before blind-baking. When the onions are about half way done (or whenever you want to blind-bake your tart shell), preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 103-001Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 144

Just before adding the balsamic vinegar to the onions, take your pastry out of the fridge. Poke little holes all over the pastry with a fork, then blind-bake for about 10 minutes until it begins to brown just a tiny bit. When blind baking, I usually cover the pastry with baking parchment and fill it with dried beans (you can use these again and again, just pour them into a little tin/bag when not using), but I lost my ‘blind-baking beans’ when I moved and haven’t gotten some new ones yet, so I had to blind bake sans beans! But it was fine even so, I think it’s safe to skip the beans-step with this particular pastry (especially if you’ve let it get nice and cold in the fridge before baking) 🙂

For the filling:

  • 5 eggs
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) of cream
  • 100 g (1 1/4 cups) grated cheese, preferably Gruyère (I used Emmenthaler, because that’s what I had in the fridge 🙂 )
  • A good amount of freshy grated pepper (maybe 20 good turns on your pepper mill?)
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (delicious but completely optional – don’t worry if you don’t have any, the caramelised onions are so flavourful that no one will notice)

Mix the eggs, cream, pepper and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

 Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 157Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 159Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 162Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 163

Sprinkle half of the cheese on the blind baked pastry, distribute the caramelised onions on top, followed by the rest of the cheese. Pour over your egg-and-cream mixture, then bake for 20-25 minutes at 200°C/400°F until the pastry is golden brown and the filling no longer wobbles.

 Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 178-001Quiche, Pebernødder og Brunkager 182-002

Take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly for 5-10 minutes before eating! The filling will have puffed up a little like a dome, but it will fall back down once it’s out of the oven and has cooled a bit.

Keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge. Reheat in the oven or microwave (the oven will ensure a crispy bottom, but it’s equally delicious albeit less crispy, pastry-wise, if reheated in the microwave).

 

 

Jødekager / Danish Christmas Cookies

smc3a5kager-og-jc3b8dekager-152

Part three, of the Christmas cookie extravaganza 🙂 this weekend I baked jødekager whilst watching Elf, and it was so festive I almost couldn’t contain it. That film just has such an awesome soundtrack. And anything involving a cookie cutter has got Christmas written all over it. Do non-Christmassy cookie cutters even exist? Unfortunately my most favourite cookie cutter, a little pig cookie cutter, is at my parents’ house, so there will be no little piggie shaped cookies this year. We also have a giraffe cookie cutter, I’m sad to say I also forgot to get that one. So hearts, stars and Christmas trees had to suffice.

The literal translation of jødekager is ʽJewish cakesʼ; the theory is that the cookies got their name because they resembled a type of cookie/biscuit that was traditionally sold in Jewish bakeries and shops in Copenhagen a few hundred years back. They’re basically a crispy, buttery cookie with cinnamon sugar and almonds on top, and they are super yummy, sort of like a Danish snickerdoodle. We almost always make them at my house around Christmas time, ever since I was little.

You can roll the dough into logs and slice it, after cooling, or go the traditional route and roll/cut out the dough, as I did here 🙂 Happy baking!

Jødekager
Adapted from Louises madblog

  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) butter
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • about 40 g (3/8 cup / 1.5 ounces) blanched + chopped/sliced almonds
  • 3 tbs sugar + 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg (for brushing)

Rub the butter into the flour; add the sugar, then mix the egg in with your fingers and press the dough together.

Småkager og jødekager 104Småkager og jødekager 108Småkager og jødekager 111

Cover the dough in the bowl and leave in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface, as thinly as you can – about 2-3 mm – and cut into desired shapes.

Småkager og jødekager 136Småkager og jødekager 138

Place on a baking sheet covered in baking parchment. Brush with egg.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. In another small bowl, add a bit of cinnamon sugar to the almonds.

Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar on each cookie, followed by a bit of the almonds.

Småkager og jødekager 140-001Småkager og jødekager 143

Bake at 200°C/400°F for 6-8 minutes, until lightly golden. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The cookies will keep for 2-4 weeks in a cookie tin/airtight container (if using a plastic container, be sure to line it with baking parchment to keep the cookies from getting soft).

Makes for about 45 cookies (depending on how big your cookie cutters are).

CollagesSmåkager og jødekager 147Collages

Chocolate Chip & Pinwheel Christmas Butter Cookies

Småkager og jødekager 163-001

These are my favourite Christmas cookies. We’ve been making these on my mother’s side of the family for at least four generations now. They aren’t a traditional Danish Christmas cookie, but my great-grandmother got the recipe in a Christmas baking leaflet (my mum still has the leaflet, it’s very old and falling apart). And we’ve been making them ever since, every Christmas. I can’t recall a single Christmas without them.

They’re very, very buttery, and the recipe makes for a LOT of cookies. Last year I only made the chocolate chip variant, because everyone prefers them (they are really yummy) and they’re a lot quicker and simpler to make, but the pinwheel ones are just so darn festive to look at, I feel like I need to make at least one small batch each year. It’s tradition.

My mum and my aunt prefer them quite crisp and brown, whilst most everyone else prefers them just slightly golden and crispy, but still a little soft. So I usually make a ‘burnt’ batch just for my mum, and keep them in a separate tin 😉

This recipe makes for about 170 cookies. You don’t have to bake them all at once, the dough keeps very well in the fridge. I usually make the dough, roll it into logs, and keep it covered in the fridge for about a week (sometimes even a tiny bit more), baking a couple of trays every few days.

You can, of course, half the amount of ingredients, if you don’t want this many, but I find that I always end up giving some away when I go to people’s houses around Christmas, and we’re a big family anyways, so eating them all usually isn’t a problem. Besides, these are the amounts listed in the original Christmas leaflet, and who am I to monkey with tradition.

Alright, you will need:

  • 1 kg (8 cups) flour
  • 750 g (3 1/3 cups) butter, cold
  • 375 g (about 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) sugar (I use raw cane sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225 g (8 ounces) dark chocolate (or 340 g/12 ounces, if making just the chocolate chip kind)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (if making the pinwheel variety)
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing over cookies

Take the largest bowl you have. You’ll need a seriously big bowl for this amount of flour and butter. Chop your cold butter into smaller bits, then rub into the flour until you have something resembling coarse breadcrumbs.

Småkager og jødekager 026-001Småkager og jødekager 042

Stir in the sugar, then the vanilla. Add the eggs and mix them into the flour-mixture a bit with your fingers, then start to gently press together your dough. Don’t worry if it seems too wet/buttery, it will come together quite nicely if you just keep pressing the dough together gently with your hands, for a few minutes.

Småkager og jødekager 054Småkager og jødekager 057Småkager og jødekager 060Småkager og jødekager 061

If you’re making the pinwheel cookies, slice the dough into three roughly equal slices in the bowl. If you want to make only chocolate chip ones, skip on ahead.

For the pinwheel cookies:

Take 1/3 of the dough. Divide it in half, one half slightly bigger than the other. In a small bowl, add three tbsp of cocoa powder to the smaller half of dough, mushing it into the dough with your fingers until it is all absorbed.

Småkager og jødekager 069Småkager og jødekager 075

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your white dough into a rectangle, about 40 x 25 cm. Brush with beaten egg.

Småkager og jødekager 076Småkager og jødekager 077
Småkager og jødekager 078Småkager og jødekager 084

Roll out your brown dough into a roughly same size and shape; roll around your rolling pin, and transfer to your white dough sheet (this can be tricky, but even if it breaks and you have to patch it up a little, who cares if some of your pinwheel cookies look a bit more wonky than the rest – just eat those, and no one will be any the wiser). I usually trim the edges of the rolled out dough, to make for a more even pinwheel pattern, but this year I forgot!

Brush the brown layer with beaten egg as well, then carefully roll your dough into a roulade, as tightly as you can.

Småkager og jødekager 086Småkager og jødekager 088Småkager og jødekager 089

Cut in half, then gently roll into two logs. Place on a cutting board, cover in tin foil, and set to cool in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably a bit more.

Småkager og jødekager 090Småkager og jødekager 091Småkager og jødekager 092

Put the beaten egg in the fridge to use later, when baking the cookies (unless you’re baking them on different days, then you will need to crack a new egg!).

For the chocolate chip cookies:

Chop the chocolate into fairly small bits (340 g if using all the dough, 225 g if using 2/3 of the dough). Add to the dough, along with any chocolate dust, and work with your hands until the chocolate chips have been incorporated into the dough.

Småkager og jødekager 094Småkager og jødekager 095
Småkager og jødekager 099Småkager og jødekager 101

Roll into logs, place on a cutting board, cover in tin foil and put in the fridge for at least an hour, before cutting and baking.

Baking the cookies:

Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Grease one or two baking sheets. No need to re-grease the baking sheet between batches, one time will do.

Slice the dough logs into 5 mm slices, and place on the baking sheets (sorry for the jumps between pinwheel and chocolate chip cookies – seems I was inconsistent in documenting the process 😉 ). Lightly press down on each cookie with the ball of your hand to flatten it a tiny bit more, then brush with beaten egg.

Småkager og jødekager 120Småkager og jødekager 115Småkager og jødekager 117

Bake for 5-7 minutes (depending on how dark you like them – I like them around the 6 minute mark, but as mentioned above, I make some almost burnt ones for my mum and aunt, baking them for 7-8 minutes.

When done, leave for a minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Småkager og jødekager 128

Repeat the slicing, flattening and egg-brushing process until all of your cookies are baked 🙂 (or you can leave the logs of dough on a cutting board, covered in tin foil in the fridge, for around a week, baking them whenever you wish!).

Store in cookie tins/airtight containers (if using a plastic container, be sure to line it with baking parchment to keep the cookies from getting soft). These keep till well after Christmas if there are any left, at least a month I’d say.

P.s.: I may not use an egg-wash next year, as I missed one, as you may have noticed in the picture above, and I rather like the ‘matte’ look! But let’s see 🙂

Klejner / Danish Christmas Cookies

Collagesc792b2ef860361fb145597c726092702Collages

I am way, way in the Christmas spirit! I’ve more or less got all my Christmas shopping done already (got most of it done in the first week of December (??!) – new record for me), I’ve started writing Christmas cards, and I even have my first batch of Christmas cookies in the bag. I really don’t know what’s come over me this Christmas season. It may simply be procrastination.

In Danish we call cookies ‘småkager’, which means little cakes. Christmas cookies are ‘julesmåkager’
(jul = Christmas), and klejner (pronounced ‘kleiner’) fall into this category. Klejner is one of the oldest type of Danish Christmas cookie, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages! The name ‘klejne’ stems from the Low German word for little (klein). So klejner are litterally ‘littles’ 🙂

Klejner are traditionally cooked in oil, resulting in a deliciously crispy texture, but I’ve come to find them a bit too heavy , especially in combination with all the other rich foods that are around during the festive season, so even though I couldn’t find any recipes for a baked variant I decided I wanted to try to bake them in the oven this year (using this recipe as my point of departure). The result is a softer, lighter cookie, but no less delicious in my opinion, especially when covered in lemon icing (this is more customary for Norwegian klejner, which are larger and softer than Danish klejner, and not for the smaller and more crispy Danish klejner; since mine are small, but not super crunchy, I decided to try and make a little Danish-Norwegian klejne-baby 🙂 ).

The cookies have a trademark twist that looks complicated but really isn’t. I may make the deep-fried version too, but I have a feeling the baked one will do me just fine this season 🙂 I hope you try
them out!

You will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 125 g butter  (just over 1/2 a cup), softened + about 50 g melted ( just under 1/4 cup) for brushing over the cookies (this butter-brushing step isn’t necessary if you decide to deep-fry the klejner, rather than baking them)
  • 125 g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 450 g (about 3 and 3/5 cups) flour, plus some for dusting the table when rolling the dough out
  • zest of one (untreated) lemon
  • 300 g icing sugar  (about 2.5 cups) + juice of about one lemon for the icing (omit this if deep frying the klejner)
  • Optional: about 750 ml vegetable oil for deep-frying, should you decide to do this instead 🙂

Because the recipe is originally in Danish and not easily adapted to cups, I would really advise you to use kitchen scales to measure out the ingredients, although I’m sure it will be fine even if you don’t 🙂

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and softened butter. Whisk in the eggs (preferably one at a time – do as I say, not as I do…). Mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and stir half of this into the butter and egg mix.

kakao og klejner 034kakao og klejner 037kakao og klejner 041

Grate in the lemon zest, then whisk in the heavy cream. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and knead the dough with your hands until you have a soft, elastic dough that is still slightly tacky to the touch.

 kakao og klejner 046kakao og klejner 048

Roll out about 1/4 of the dough on a floured surface, and cut long strips about 3 cm / 1 inch wide. Cut across at an angle, making the strips about 5 cm / 2 inches long. Peel off the scraps and make a scrap pile.

kakao og klejner 053kakao og klejner 054

Cut a slit about 2 cm / 2/3 inch long in the middle of each dough strip. Pull one end of the dough strip through the slit, pulling gently to make the signature shape.

kakao og klejner 082kakao og klejner 056kakao og klejner 084

Place the cookies on a well-greased baking tray. Melt the extra 50 g of butter, and slather the cookies in melted butter before baking for about 5-6 minutes at 200°C / 400°F.

 kakao og klejner 059kakao og klejner 078

Don’t overbake them, take them out of the oven when the edges are just beginning to brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

kakao og klejner 089

Repeat with the rest of the dough (no need to re-grease the baking trays, but do repeat the slather-in-melted-butter step). Make sure to roll the scraps into a ball and use this too.

Let cool, then mix the icing sugar and lemon juice into a thick icing (you want an icing that will stay on the cookie and hold its shape, not a glaze). Ice your cookies. Be sure to let the icing set before transferring the iced cookies to an airtight container/cookie jar.

The iced cookies keep for a few weeks at least in an airtight container 🙂

Makes for about 36 cookies.

P.s.: If you decide to deep-fry them, heat your oil in a wide sautéeing pan, then fry your klejner in batches of 10-15 or so, however many fit in your pan without it getting too crowded, for about 2-3 minutes, turning them over mid-fry. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate covered in kitchen towel, to absorb the excess oil. Let cool off slightly, then enjoy 🙂 Keep in an airtight metal tin.

The Best Hot Chocolate

kakao-og-klejner-025-004

You have to try this hot chocolate mix from smitten kitchen. It is the bomb.com. I’m not even kidding. You have to. I’m planning on making a bunch of it, both to keep around the house and to give away this Christmas. I’ve had three mugs of it since yesterday, and I’m planning on having at least one more today.

It’s super easy to make, rich and creamy and extremely yummy, just the right amount of sweet.

Trust me, just make it.

For a jar with enough for about 7-9 mugs of hot chocolate (depending on how chocolaty you like your cocoa), you will need:

  • 100 g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 85 g / 3 ounces dark chocolate (for this batch I used 54%, which was perfect)
  • 40 g / 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract / a teeny tiny amount of seeds from a fresh vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Grate the chocolate on the fine side of a box grater/cheese grater (I also tried making a portion in my food processor later in the day, and found that it made the chocolate stick together in clumps and make the mixture clumpy – but maybe that’s just my food processor? In any case, grating worked no problem 🙂 I may try chopping the chocolate more finely and giving the blender another go rather than grating it, when I make a big batch).

kakao og klejner 003-001kakao og klejner 012

Put into a mixing bowl along with the remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon until well combined.

Heat a cup of milk (whichever kind you prefer) in the microwave on high for 2 minutes; add 4 heaped teaspoons of hot chocolate mix (after vigorous testing, I’ve concluded that this is my preferred amount 😉 ). Or heat the milk and hot chocolate mix in a small saucepan for a few minutes until the mixture has dissolved and the milk is nice and hot!

kakao og klejner 017kakao og klejner 022

Serve on its own or with whipped cream or marshmallows. I had mine with breakfast, sunny side up!

kakao-og-klejner-025-005kakao-og-klejner-027-002

The hot chocolate mix keeps in an airtight container for about two months (but I promise you it won’t be around for that long).